In honour of the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, our Editor and resident Potter-head Laure Deprez has written a short piece about what the Harry Potter phenomenon means to her:-
It all started with a single line:
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
Of course, the first time I ever read Harry Potter was in French; the first book was called Harry Potter and the Wizardry School/School of Wizards (Harry Potter et L’Ecole des Sorciers”).
My Godmother introduced me to this series one summer day – I had no idea it was already massively popular around Europe – and I was immediately hooked. As a child, I had always liked reading, but nothing inspired the same love I would have for Harry Potter. Soon, it was all we were talking about on the playground, especially when the first film came out. My mum and I would spend Saturday afternoons rewatching it on DVD and come Monday morning, my friends and I would re-create pivotal scenes during recess: the first meeting between Harry and Draco; Hermione teaching Ron how to execute the Wingardium Leviosa spell; Harry’s confrontation with Quirrell.
As I grew, my passion for the books started burning brighter than ever – I always bought the new books on their release, speculated with my friends and internet forums about what would happen next, how Harry would defeat Voldemort once and for all, and read (and wrote some terrible) fanfictions. I went to my first midnight release when The Half-Blood Prince came out. I was proudly the first one to grab a copy of the novel when they opened the shop’s doors. I loved how excited this series made people – even those who didn’t make a habit of reading knew all about it – how it connected teenagers with seemingly nothing else in common. I am to this day, still friends with people I met through forums, and can still share a “you too!” moment with total strangers when I learn they love Harry Potter (especially if they are, like me, Slytherins).
JK Rowling’s books opened a brand new literary horizon for me: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the first book I read in English. JK also gave me a taste for subtle English humour, that would translate into me devouring Roald Dahl’s short story collections and the Jeeves series. Maybe in some ways it led me on the path to working in publishing; I wanted to share my passion for creative, original stories with the world and give a chance to those manuscripts that, like Harry Potter, were sitting in the slush pile, waiting for an editor to pick them up.
Happy birthday, Harry Potter.